Summer is here – time for thousands of tourists to hit Washington, DC. in the muggy heat. How bad is the humidity? In the days before air conditioning, ambassadors, assigned to the nation’s capital, received hardship pay.
With the lightweight Eagle Creek Cloudstream 28″ Upright, getting into DC is no sweat. Slightly more than nine pounds, it is a breeze to wheel around National or Dulles Airports or Union Station.
As a former licensed DC tour guide, here are some must-do tips:
1. Keep hydrated.
Standing in lengthy lines is a common sight at many DC monuments, memorials, and museums as are the great number of tourists who drop in a dead faint due to dehydration.
2. The walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building is much farther than it looks on the map.
Gasping for breath while holding their sides, family members or passing members of Congress, many a tourist looked at the tour guide map and thought ‘that’s not too far’. It is close to three miles and the final mile or so is uphill. No, it is not like climbing the Alps, but in high humidity and weighted down by souvenirs, brochures and water bottles it can take a toll on some.
If you want to stretch your legs, leave Old Abe and head up Independence Avenue, SW to the Smithsonian Metro Station outside the USDA Building. Three stops later is Capitol South near the US Capitol and Library of Congress Buildings.
3. The Smithsonian is not one building
Unless you are in town for a month or more – forget about seeing everything at this world-famous museum also known as “America’s Attic.” Millions of items ranging from the ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz to the Hope Diamond are downtown where over ten buildings of the Smithsonian are located. These include the ever-popular Air and Space and American History to the Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Postal Museum across the street from Union Station.
Also, the Smithsonian Metro Stop is not convenient to all. L’Enfant Plaza and Federal Center are best for museums north of 7th Avenue along Independence Ave SW, and the Mall. Across the Mall and off Constitution Ave, SW the Federal Triangle stop works best, while getting off at Gallery Place/Chinatown is perfect for the National Portrait Gallery.
4. Street Vendors’ Prices are Cheapest at 9 a.m.
If you promised everyone a DC t-shirt purchasing from as street vendors are setting up their wares will get you the best price. By noon, and beyond, the prices rise considerably.
5. Touring the White House requires pre-planning
To enjoy a self-guided tour of the “People’s House” you must have official photo ID and tickets obtained through one’s Member of Congress or embassy. This must be done in advance. A visit to the White House Visitors Center at the corner of 15th St NW and Pennsylvania Avenue you can pick up a free phone app on the White House and view terrific exhibits. It opens at 7:30 a.m. making it a perfect start to a jam-packed day. Also, there are free restrooms – always an important factor when touring all day.
6. The Old Post Office Tower
With the Washington Monument closed, due to 2011’s earthquake, getting to see DC with a birds-eye-view is still possible from the Old Post Office Tower at the corner of 12th St NW and Pennsylvania Ave. It opens at 9 a.m. making it a perfect third stop after the White House Visitors Center and breakfast at the Ronald Reagan Building’s food court.
7. See the memorials and monuments at night
Stirring inspiration and ever-lasting memories are the rewards to those who view the monuments at night. Along the Vietnam Wall, voices are hushed, as they are by the nearby Korean War Veteran’s Memorial with its larger than life statues and granite wall. Abraham Lincoln’s calming stare has comforted millions since the early part of the 20th century.
Read the words of Thomas Jefferson surrounding the bronzed statue of America’s 1-2-3 man (first Secretary of State, second Vice President and third President) helps to understand this country’s early struggles. Later struggles of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement are highlighted at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the World War II, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials. Cross the Potomac River into Arlington, Virginia for the sight of Marines raising our nation’s flag after the Battle of Iwo Jima on Mount Suribachi.
Enjoy your time in DC!
What You Need to Know about the Eagle Creek Cloudstream 28″ Upright: